Copy Is A User Experience
I’m a blogger and copywriter by trade. While I could go into how content is often devalued (which I will save for another post), I often get from clients, stakeholders and other partners I work with, “why does it take so long? Can’t you work faster?” The old adage that you can’t have something fast, good and cheap all at once is especially true when creating text content. While we all work under different constraints and market conditions, it’s vital to understand that bad content is the equivalent of pouring your marketing budget down the drain. It’s the exact same thing as if you were not optimizing for ad impression share in an Adwords campaign or refusing to mark up structured data for an online shopping campaign. All online writers should master the basics of SEO copywriting.
Grammar and style is SEO optimisation
While Google has made no formal pronouncement in regards to grammar, spelling and style as ranking factors, the SEO community generally feels that grammar, spelling and style are among the 200+ ranking factors in the algorithm, as discussed in this recent Grammarly article.
Carlos Escelera at Ohow.co shares an interesting quote from Matt Cutts of Google on all things, spelling:
"We noticed a while ago that, if you look at the PageRank of a page (how reputable we think a particular page or site is) the ability to spell correlates relatively well with that. So, the reputable sites tend to spell better and the sites that are lower PageRank, or very low PageRank, tend not to spell as well."
So, what this means is that copy, style, spelling, readability and grammar are important. Old school copy editing are essential for good SEO. Copy editing is a user experience issue and will have a direct impact on SEO performance (and SEM as well, since Quality Score is directly influenced by readability and UX.
5 Basics For Solid Copywriting SEO
Here are 5 solid techniques that will give you a solid floor when creating text copy for online use. These can be extended out to such things as Ebooks, various types of ad creative depending on ad unit type 0 Ad Words, display, and so on.
Note that these are the basics. There are lots of tips and tricks that will help you increase conversions and click through rates. This is more focused on making articles simply easier to read with an eye towards online, especially mobile. SEO copywriting starts with user experience, and continues with such things like keyword optimization.
Your 5 SEO Copywriting Basics Checklist:
- Get a grammar and spell checking plugin. Of course, I love Grammarly. It has both paid and free Chrome and Firefox versions. When you’re behind a deadline and don’t have time for a conventional spell check, this is it. Grammarly also offers grammar correction suggestions. For SEO copywriting it’s an essential tool.
- Read the piece aloud to yourself. This is a magazine editor’s trick – print the completed piece out and read it aloud to yourself. Do this preferably with someone else listening as well. Copy should sound natural to the human ear. If it doesn’t, then your grammar is probably screwed up, and you’ll need to correct your copy.
- Use plain language – plain language is easier to read and understand. Copy that is that is brief and slang free is easier for the search engines to parse. It’s also easier to edit and proof. Dense and complex language is harder to read and increases the likelihood of such things as cart abandonment. “too long, didn’t read” is indeed a thing, especially in the mobile world where time and screen real estate is limited. If you do need to use technical language, include relevant links to explanations.
- Keep it brief – As the Bard wrote – “brevity is the soul of whit.” This is especially true with 140 characters. One trick I use is to arbitrarily enforce a word limit on my writing that is 200 words less than the mandate, as this forces me to tighten my style and verb structure and ironically forces me to open room if I need to expand elsewhere in my text – for example, if I need to include keyword phrases or a call to action I may have forgotten earlier. Making the point succinctly is a hugely valuable skill, especially when composing meta descriptions, titles, alt tags and structured data for SEO projects. I often put my text into an Excel cell and use =LEN(A) and then lower word count.
- Get another set of eyes – Even if you have to do the rest of the formal copy process yourself, always have someone do a proofread. This is simply sensical.
These are not technical SEO steps. These are user experience steps.